Category Archive 'Statism'
17 Dec 2019
Jeffrey Tucker sees the recent Tory landslide victory as strong evidence that the main portion of the voting public has had it with the Progressive Left.
Voters throughout the developed world have been getting wiser through the decades. When politicians attack the rich, decry the holes in the safety net, demand controls on business, rail against financial markets, and demand more free things for everyone, there is a missing piece in the rhetoric: enacting all these things puts more power in the hands of the state. Here is the fundamental choice that no amount of fancy language can change: we either trust society and markets to manage themselves or we give more power to the state to use compulsion against the population. This is finally the reality that unmasks every proponent of socialism. Left-wing collectivism is not, in the end, about making society better off; it is about transferring power from the people outside of government to those inside of government.
Let’s hope he’s right. All this “progressive” infatuation with Statism, Collectivism, and the supposed superiority of decision-making by scientific experts is a 19th Century fantasy that really hit its peak influence a century ago. Thereafter, it left a spectacular record of economic failure and atrocity. The mystery is: why is it taking the pseudo-intelligentsia so long to recognize the obvious?
07 Jul 2018
Herbert Spencer, “Over-Legislation,” Westminster Review, p. 28:
Though we have ceased to assume the infallibility of our theological beliefs and so ceased to enact them, we have not ceased to enact hosts of other beliefs of an equally doubtful kind. Though we no longer presume to coerce men for their spiritual good, we still think ourselves called upon to coerce them for their material good: not seeing that the one is as useless and as unwarrantable as the other. Innumerable failures seem, so far, powerless to teach this. Take up a daily paper and you will probably find a leader exposing the corruption, negligence, or mismanagement of some State department. Cast your eye down the next column, and it is not unlikely that you will read proposals for an extension of State-supervision. Yesterday came a charge of gross carelessness against the Colonial Office. Today Admiralty bunglings are burlesqued. Tomorrow brings the question, â€œShould there not be more coal-mine inspectors?â€ Now there is a complaint that the Board of Health is useless; and now an outcry for more railway regulation. While your ears are still ringing with denunciations of Chancery abuses, or your cheeks still glowing with indignation at some well-exposed iniquity of the Ecclesiastical Courts, you suddenly come upon suggestions for organizing â€œa priesthood of science.â€ Here is a vehement condemnation of the police for stupidly allowing sight-seers to crush each other to death. You look for the corollary that official regulation is not to be trusted; when, instead, Ã propos of a shipwreck, you read an urgent demand for government-inspectors to see that ships always have their boats ready for launching. Thus, while every day chronicles a failure, there every day reappears the belief that it needs but an Act of Parliament and a staff of officers to effect any end desired. Nowhere is the perennial faith of mankind better seen.”
16 Jun 2018
One of the bookplates used by Harry Worcester Smith, 1865-1945.
Bruce Walker argues, perfectly correctly, that people have a right to discriminate.
The left has created a macabre myth that runs counter to the whole experience of mankind. The left has persuaded the gullible masses of America, including, sadly, most conservatives, that “discrimination” by individuals and businesses is wrong and that it violates the Constitution.
Precisely the opposite is true. All serious cognition and all honest moral judgments involve discrimination. When individuals and businesses are not free to discriminate, then the power to determine what is true and false and good and bad becomes the sole property of the state â€“ or that even more odious creature, that lobotomized Frankenstein monster, “society.”
Instead of diverse opinions and actions freely manifest, which are what happens when the state and society are denied the power to force a certain viewpoint down the throats of private citizens and enterprises, what happens is that all debate, all differences, and all individuality are crushed based upon what those who run the state or manipulate society deem sacrosanct.
The framers never intended there to be federal laws and actual divisions of the Department of Justice prying into American’s hearts and minds and telling them what they can and cannot do with respect to their own property or businesses.
I may think, almost all of us might think, your personal opinions and inclinations wrong, stupid, even reprehensible, but that gives the rest of us no right whatsoever to tell you that you have to hire, rent to, or serve somebody against your will.
11 Jun 2018
When Zman is right, he is right.
[It] is a recurring theme with the American Left. It is the reason they embraced the term â€œProgressiveâ€ as their preferred label. They start with the unspoken belief that the story of man is written. It is the duty of the righteous to live it out in order to reach salvation. Itâ€™s why â€œbeing on the right side of historyâ€ comes up so often. They think of the struggle as between those on the side of the great historical force and those who are standing in the way of it. The righteous are always looking forward and moving forward.
It is also why they think of the past as a dark age dominated by the sinners. There is no romanticism on the American Left, because the past is by definition further away from the glorious future. Instead, the past is filled with monsters that were either slain by the righteous, or locked away, but ready to return at any moment. For example, they remain forever vigilant about the return of Nazis, as if they are a real thing that still exist. In the mind of the American progressive â€œNaziâ€ is just another name for Old Scratch.
Notice in that Times piece that the Trump voters are described as â€œleft behindâ€ rather than unhappy or in disagreement. In other words, the people voting for Trump did so because they were sad for having been left behind by the righteous. Voting for Trump was a cry for help. Itâ€™s tempting to see this as part of Obamaâ€™s narcissism, but in reality his narcissism is also the result of this deep belief in the flow of history. He was chosen to lead the faithful, so of course he is a narcissist. What savior would not be a bit full of himself?
Youâ€™ll notice that Progressives are forever warning about some attempt to â€œturn back the clockâ€ and return us to a former state of sin. It resonates with Progressives, because for them, the eternal quest for salvation means going forward, breaking away from the degraded past. Trumpâ€™s â€œturning the clock backâ€ is viewed as the wages of sin. Obama thinks he tried too hard to deliver his people to the promised land. The result was the great leap backward into Trumpism. It is a lament and call to redouble the efforts of the faithful.
American Progressives are the purest form of true believers, because they have disconnected their beliefs from practical considerations. Therefore, they are immune to facts and reason. When you examine the language they use to describe politics and the culture, you see the extreme mysticism. Obama does not even really know what â€œleft behindâ€ means, but he is sure it is a bad thing. For him, it is a purely a spiritual issue to be thought of in those terms. Practical considerations simply have no salience for him.
The error the Right has made for generations is to think it is possible to prove the Left wrong, and therefore force them to abandon their agenda. Thatâ€™s like thinking you can disprove sections of the Koran and cause the Muslims to abandon their faith. In fact, efforts to do so will always be met with a fierce defense of the faith. Practical arguments always embolden the righteous, as it confirms their belief in themselves as moral agents in a holy cause. Your irrational resistance is proof they are on the righteous path.
02 Mar 2018
A papyrus fragment containing text from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians offered for sale on eBay in 2012. Oh me, oh my!
Roberta Mazza proves that you can have a graduate degree and specialized academic expertise and still be a total imbecile with respect to markets, governments, and reality.
We academics must help protect the objects we study. Some of my colleagues believe that scholarship comes first, or say that texts have no guilt, so we should be faithful to them. They publish what emerges from the market. I disagree. To publish papyri with suspicious â€” if not illegal â€” provenance is unethical. It lends a new identity to those artefacts and feeds the illicit market.
Looting and illicit excavations in Egypt not only destroy the archaeological landscape forever, but also have also caused deaths and injuries to Egyptians, including children, employed to dig in narrow shafts. In 2016, two archaeological guards, Ashrawy and Mustafa Ali, were shot dead by looters in action. And there is good reason to believe that many crimes go unreported in the current political and economic climate. (That said, in the UK, academics who facilitate exchanges of improperly-obtained antiquities can be charged for money laundering.)
So what should we do with all of these suspiciously-sourced fragments? They should be immediately returned to the legitimate owner: Egypt. (Egyptian authorities may eventually reach a deal with the collectors for study and publication before repatriation.) Those who study papyri must exercise due diligence before publishing anything, and academics should exercise an active role in educating collectors and keeping an eye on the market. Would you knowingly buy a stolen bike? Why would you buy â€” or publish â€” a stolen manuscripts?
Ms. Mazza, firstly, suffers from the self-entitlement and inclination-to-control-the-universe syndrome which characteristically afflicts credentialed members of the academical elite. That naturally combines with uncritical left-wing statism, producing a pathological hostility to free markets and the voluntary and organic interactions of ordinary mortal human beings who lack badges, official positions, and doctorates, along with an uncritical bias in favor of the State, even when the State consists of a corrupt Third World kleptocracy and dictatorship.
The rational reader learns from Dr. Mazza’s article that this small papyrus fragment was offered for sale on Ebay by a source one might not want to invite home to meet the parents, but in the end a little way down the road, what do you know! was evidently purchased by some capitalistic plutocrat and donated to a museum, where it is obviously being carefully preserved and kept available for study and research.
Her problem, of course, is the absence of a good provenance. But Dr. Mazza expects everything her own way, and refuses to reflect on causes and effects and the nature of reality. Why is there no provenance? Obviously a provenance is lacking, because this papyrus fragment could not be bought and sold openly. It had to travel from valueless, totally inaccessible, probably dangerous occult obscurity to its resting place in a prominent collection via the black market.
Why the black market? Obviously because greedy, pompous, grasping primitive governments like that of Egypt despotically claim total ownership of all antique, archaeological, and historically valuable material found, discovered, unearthed, or passed along in some chain of private or corporate possession in their territory. Better that artifact lie buried in the ground than that some Egyptian peasant carry on the millenia-old antiquities hunting trade, find it, profit privately, and let the item go to some institutional collection in a civilized Western country. No, no, no, that would be a theft from, and an affront to, the People’s Collectivist State.
Obviously, if in a different world, a world in which academicians looked objectively at economic reality, Human Nature, and the legitimacy, ethical qualities, and level of sophistication and culture of different governments and societies, those academics would do the really ethical thing and dismiss out of hand the insolent claims of ephemeral contemporary brigandish regimes to the inherited legacy of mankind generally, and they would insist that private initiative and market forces be permitted to operate freely, recognizing the former as by far the most efficient, effective, and reliable mechanisms, those being actually in accord with individual self interest, for the recovery and preservation of antiquities of every kind.
In a free market situation, instead of being covertly offered on Ebay, a valuable papyrus fragment would have been advertised widely with every bit of documentation and provenance possible in order to maximize the object’s value and to bring it to the attention of every possible interested individual and institutional collector. The missing provenance isn’t the fault of market processes. It is the fault of over-reaching, oppressive Statism.
13 Nov 2017
Severian argues that a high tax regime isn’t just about the money.
Taxes have an effect, and it isnâ€™t an accidental side-effect, itâ€™s an ulterior but central purpose: To weaken and distort the messages that bind civilization together, that keep it functioning.
Civilization is made up of very few of these messages: â€œIt is wrong to kill or hurt other peopleâ€; â€œIf someone has something you want, you need to acquire consent from them before you take it and that usually means paying for itâ€; â€œIf you help me get things done I want to get done, I will give you this money.â€ Liberals and democrats want taxes higher, higher, higher, all the time and they donâ€™t have a set amount in mind, nor do they want to pay for â€œpolice, fire departments and park benchesâ€; they just want the taxes to be high, so they can attack that 3rd message that keeps civilization working and functional. Ideally, for them, the tax rate would be 100% and weâ€™d all be fed & sheltered by living on the dole. Then, dependency on the state would also be 100%. Then theyâ€™d reach the â€œfun partâ€ â€” they tell the rest of us what to do, and we go do it. …
Yes, taxes are required to keep civilization working.
Higher taxes bring civilization to a stop. Theyâ€™re supposed to do this. They remove the ability, as well as the incentive, for children to grow into strong, complete, capable adults. Theyâ€™re supposed to do that, too. Minimal taxes are a lubricant. Higher taxes are a solvent.
Remember this next time you hear someone monologue away about the evils of a tax cut.
23 May 2017
“The State is the coldest of all cold monsters- and this lie creeps from its mouth: â€œI, the state, am the peopleâ€.”
15 May 2017
Jeffrey A. Tucker explains exactly why Donald Trump is driving liberals batty.
This frenzy even has a name: Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is an identifying state of mind. It has particular symptoms.
To be sure, I read these pieces and donâ€™t entirely disagree with the particulars of the analysis. In none of our lifetimes have we seen anything like this. The stodgy, serious, protocol-driven attempt to bring high dignity to this office has been a main concern of government. When it came out that Bill Clinton was using his power and office for private pleasures, it rattled the establishment, not because of his sins but because his behavior elicited ridicule from the public. …
But there is something off about this center-left tendency. These commentators are driven to wild apoplexy by Trump, but not for the reasons I would normally cite. I donâ€™t like his trade theories, his views on immigration, his shabby understanding of the problem with American health insurance, his ramping up of the police state, or his foreign policy. I was calling him out on all of this as early as July 2015.
Their complaints are contradictory. They, on the other hand, seem to object to the very existence of Trump, his every utterance, his actions no matter what they are, and everything related to this new administration.
Their complaints are contradictory. He is terrible because he is doing terrible things! He is terrible because he is not really doing anything! This presidency is destroying the world! This presidency is all sound and fury and nothing else!
It finally struck me why. For this crowd, all their hopes and dreams are bound up with particular political processes, outcomes, and institutions. The state is their favorite tool for all the good they aspire to do in this world. It must be protected, guarded, defended, celebrated. The illusion that the government is not a taker but a giver and the source of all good things must be maintained. The gloss of the democratic process must be constantly refurbished so that the essential sanctity of the public sector can be constantly cited as the highest calling.
The center-left has at least one hundred years of work and resources invested in the stateâ€™s health, well being, reputation, and exalted moral status. Nothing must be allowed to threaten it or take it down a peg or two. Any failures must be deemed as temporary setbacks. The slightest sign of some success must be trumpeted constantly. The population must be subjected to unrelenting homilies on the essential holiness of the public sector.
Their education told them this. Their degrees and ruling-class pedigree were hard earned. This is what has inspired them. They believe so strongly that they can make the world a better place through the managerial state that it has become their religion. Itâ€™s their very core!
Above all else, the president is supposed to represent. His duty is to reflect and broadcast this sensibility.
Writing in 1944, Ludwig von Mises wrote that the debate over the future of freedom is not only about beating back socialism, communism, fascism, interventionism, and so on. There is broader discussion to be had. The core problem is the ideology of statism, a word he took from the French term etatism. It identified a view that the state should always and in everything be the central power, organizing principle, and spiritual core of any society. It must be the final judge, the final arbiter, the center of our loyalties, the one indispensable institution because it alone is deserving of our highest devotion and ideal. It must be forever built, larger and larger, taking on ever more responsibility and taking ever more money and power from the rest of us.
The president is supposed to at least pretend to be the high priest of the statist religion. That’s his job, according to this outlook.
Everything seemed to being going so well under the Obama administration, which was so earnest, so decorous, so civil. He was funny, smart, respectful of process, and sincere in his pronouncements. He ran on hope and change but governed as the person who kept hope for a new freedom and any radical change at bay.
Trump has profoundly disturbed the balance. He overthrew the respective establishments of two parties, tore right into the legitimacy of the national press, humiliated every expert who predicted his demise, and is now stumbling around Washington like a bum in a jewelry store. He is not actually cutting back on the size of the state; he is doing something even more terrifying from the center-left point of view: he is ruining the mystery of the state, and thereby discrediting their holy institutions.
After the election, I wrote that this might be our 1989. What I meant is that major aspects of what we always thought would be true were suddenly not true any more. New possibilities have opened up. An older establishment has been discredited if not overthrown. What comes next is another matter.
Trump is not a liberator in any sense. His temperament suggests the opposite. It was he who famously said in the campaign: â€œThe nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.â€ Moreover, and in many ways, the deep state has regrouped and bitten back to avoid losing power and influence in Washington.
Even so, he is everything that the center-left fears most, a person who works, despite himself, to discredit the thing they love the most. He has demoralized them beyond consoling. Now we are seeing talk of impeachment. This seems to be some peopleâ€™s last hope for saving the old faith.
18 Mar 2017
Sir Samuel Luke Fildes KCVO RA, The Doctor, 1891, Tate Gallery.
In 1949, Fildes’ painting “The Doctor” (1891) was used by the American Medical Association in a campaign against a proposal for nationalized medical care put forth by President Harry S. Truman. The image was used in posters and brochures along with the slogan, “Keep Politics Out of this Picture.” 65,000 posters of The Doctor were distributed, which helped to raise public skepticism of the nationalized health care campaign. In 2008, the AMA was no longer defending the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and the independence of the Medical Profession, but was instead supporting Obamacare and the nationalization of health care.
Dr. Publius, at Ricochet, explains how all this happened.
For the medical profession, there is one ethical obligation that surpasses all others. It is the very obligation that defines a classic profession, and once it is abandoned, members of that so-called profession no longer have any claim whatsoever to any of the special regard, respect, perquisites, or considerations that commonly accrue to true professionals in our society.
Physicians have referred to this obligation as the doctor-patient relationship. Like the lawyer-client relationship and the clergy-parishioner relationship, the doctor-patient relationship is supposed to be a sacred, protected, fiduciary one, in which the patient can feel safe in disclosing private information they may not even willingly tell their spouses, and in return the doctor agrees not only to keep that information private, but also to act on that information in such a way that furthers and optimizes the individual patientâ€™s own best medical interests, without regard to which actions or recommendations might be to the doctorâ€™s interests â€” or to societyâ€™s.
The abandonment of this sacred, fiduciary obligation (honored by physicians for over 2000 years) cannot be blamed on Obamacare. It was formally abandoned years before most of us had ever heard of Mr. Obama. The doctor-patient relationship, never as pure in practice as it was in concept, began to significantly erode in the 1990s. This, of course, was the heyday of for-profit HMOs, when the insurers used extreme coercion to make certain that doctors learned who their real customers were. Doctors who did not place the payers first had their reimbursements slashed, and often found themselves excluded from panels, and therefore from access to patients. In a surprisingly short time doctors by the thousands were signing â€œgag clauses,â€ in which they agreed to withhold from patients certain information that might be adverse to the interests of the HMOs.
It would be wrong to say that doctors did not mind these things. It troubled many of them deeply. Indeed, by the turn of the millennium many members of the profession were feeling, and occasionally publicly expressing, tremendous guilt for having had to abandon their chief ethical obligation to their patients, in order to continue practicing medicine.
Faced with an ethical dilemma which was increasingly difficult for them to tolerate, an outcry arose from within the medical profession demanding that their leadership take up the problem, and do something about it. Most doctors had in mind some sort of organized action by which the profession would attempt to reclaim its ethical grounding. And so, conferences were convened, debates (of a sort) engaged in, and at last, action taken.
What doctors in the trenches failed to realize was that the physicians who dedicate their careers to leading professional organizations are almost always Progressives, because this is what Progressives do. So the action that was finally taken was the official adoption of a new set of medical ethics, which was published in 2002: â€œMedical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter. â€œ(Annals of Internal Medicine, February 5, 2002). This document described a new ethical precept which was to be formally adopted by the medical profession. That new precept was, of course, â€œSocial Justice.â€ Under the precept of social justice, doctors, in making medical decisions at the bedside, suddenly became obligated to take the equitable distribution of healthcare resources into account. Covert rationing at the bedside at the behest of payers (who presumably knew more about equitable distribution of resources than individual physicians did), was not only acceptable, and not only a positive good, but an ethical requirement.
During the intervening years this new charter of medical ethics was indeed formally adopted by virtually every medical professional organization in the world.
Adding social justice to the ethical obligations of physicians or course did nothing to ease the discrepancy between the needs the patient and the needs of the payer. But its addition at least assuaged some of the guilt of some of the doctors who chose not to think too deeply about it.
This modernized, progressive version of medical ethics was not the result of Obamacare, but it has served Obamacare well. It was a matter of mere moments before doctors noticed that it would behoove them to shift their efforts from making the insurers happy to making the government happy.
Today, when a doctor makes a medical recommendation to a patient, that patient can no longer be confident that the recommendation is truly the one the doctor believes is best for him or her. For it may instead simply represent what the doctor has decided the patient deserves, given his/her needs in relation to the needs of all the other patients in the Accountable Care Organization, the state, the country, or the world.